ELECTION FALL-OUT: Sparks fly in run-off; chief fires opponent

Deidre Cruse, Governmental Reporter

White Castle Police Sgt. Michael Troy Brown Sr. lost an election one day and his job the next, fired by Mario Brown, the police chief he sought to replace.

In a Marinouin-area School Board race, Donald Ray Patterson and the husband Karen “Kay” Jewell, his run-off opponent who led the three-person field in District A, are disputing what was said in a telephone call the day after their primary.

Patterson alleges a bribery attempt; Iberville Parish Council Chairman Matthew H. “Matt” Jewell said he was checking out a rumor that Patterson might drop out of the race when the call turned ugly.

In White Castle, a defeated Board of Alderman candidate considered challenging the results of his election because another defeated candidate was not registered to vote in White Castle.

Eric “Duck” Battiste, who finished seventh in a 10-candidate field for the five seats, said he thought he might have made it into a run-off if Kendrick Fleming's 329 votes had been cast for candidates registered to vote in the city. Fleming lives in White Castle, but apparently had not changed his voter registration from Dorseyville and was turned away from the polls when he tried to vote.

As of the deadline for challenging the results on Monday, Battiste had not filed suit, Clerk of Court J. G. “Bubbie” Dupont Jr. said. A challenge of Fleming's voter registration should have come immediately after the qualifying period, the clerk said.

It was all fall-out from the October 2 primary elections in Iberville Parish.

In the White Castle police chief's race, Brown won re-election to a second term with 55 percent of the vote, despite his indictment on federal racketeering, bribery and fraud charges. Brown did not respond to the POST/SOUTH's request for an interview for this story.

Robinson, who had served more than 12 years in the White Castle Police, challenged his boss and came in second with 33 percent in a three-man field.

“On the day after the election, I reported to work on Sunday,” Robinson said. “He [Brown] called me at 3 p.m. and told me not to come back to work. I asked why. He said we would have to have a sit-down.”

Robinson provided a copy of a certified letter dated October 7  notifying him of a disciplinary hearing on three violations – refusal to work when scheduled, as on September 11; failure to make corrections on an accident report and turn in it on time, and insubordination by responding to the chief with profanity.

Robinson said the White Castle Police Department has no policies and procedures manual under which an officer could be charged with rules violations, as required by the state ethics code. The White Castle Police Department is not under Civil Service, which requires due process for officers who are disciplined or fired.

“He makes up the rules as he goes,” the former officer said. Robinson said he had taken a vacation day on September 11, and noted that Brown did not name the dates of the other instances.

At his October 11 disciplinary hearing, the town's attorney and its safety commissioner asked Brown what he wanted to do, Robinson said.

“He sat there and looked kind of crazy for a minute,” he said. “He never said anything because he knew I was taping.”

Robinson said he considered filing suit to challenge his dismissal, but has decided against taking any immediate action. He has a year to file.

“Let the Lord take care of it...There's too much negative attention on the Town of White Castle,” Robinson said. “His [Brown's] day is coming.”

In the School Board District A race, Kay Jewell finished the first primary with 48 percent of the vote and 43 votes short of a win. Patterson came in second with 28 percent, and incumbent Stanley Washington finished out of the running with 24 percent.

Matt Jewell said he and his wife crossed paths with Patterson as as they voted on election day, and had a cordial conversation.

“My wife said we love you no matter what happens and hugged him,” Jewell said.

The day after the election, Jewell said he called Patterson to congratulate him and asked about the rumor that Patterson might withdraw; he and Kay Jewell did not want to spend more money on election materials if that were the case.

Jewell quoted Patterson as saying “You're going down. You're in the fight of your life. I said the numbers don't show that.”

After that, Jewell said, “I said very little. I could see where it was turning ugly. He said I'm not finished with you. I hung up.”

Past the congratulations, Patterson's account diverges. He quoted Jewell as saying “I just called to see what it's going to take to get you out of this race. I said you're in for the fight of your life. He said you can't win” and asked him to “save me the dollars and the time.”

Patterson further quoted Jewell as saying “I got people in place so you might as well back out of the race. He said you don't know who you're dealing with. You can't win.”

“I said who do you think you are, and he hung up on me,” Patterson said.

“I felt like he was trying to buy me out,” Patterson said. “...He tried to threaten me.”

“I was just really upset about it,” he said. “I'm new to the political arena. I don't know about bribery.”

Patterson is a postal worker of 12 years and also pastor and founder of the One Accord Ministry of Unification in Maringouin.

Kay and Matt Jewell have owned their own insurance agency in Maringouin for 26 years.

“There's a lot of negative stuff being said – that she's a racist,” Jewell said.”That's far from the truth. You don't live in the community for 26 years, helping people and you're a racist.”

Jewell said they list Patterson among their insurance customers.

“He has insurance with us,” he said. “We're not going to make an enemy when the man is spending money with us. This is one of the roughest [campaigns] I've ever seen in my life.”